10 SEO and user experience strategies for multi regional websites

Deciding on the best way to make a Global website multilingual raises a number of questions.

One of these is how to make sure the right people find the right version of your site.

Here are some techniques to you might want to consider:

1. What the user sees is what counts. 
  • Google only uses the visible content of the page to determine its language.
2. Only use one language page per.
  • Using a single language for content and navigation on each page can help search engines determine the language correctly.
  • Avoid side-by-side translations.
  • Avoid translating only the boilerplate text of your pages when the majority of the other content in a single language. 
 The same content appears multiple times in search results with different boilerplate languages (this creates a bad user experience).

3. Be wary of automatic translations
  • They don’t always make sense and could even appear to be spam.
  • Poor or artificial-sounding translations won’t help the brand’s image and will result in an irregular tone of voice. 
4. Keep the content for each language on separate URLs. E.g:
 fr.nameofwebsite.com de.nameofwebsite.com
French language
German language

5. Avoid using cookies to show translated versions of the page.
  • Presenting language in this way could result in the user being presented with incorrect content that isn’t possible to adjust.
  • If you take this route make it clear to the user that you are going to remember this setting.
  • Make it easy for them to undo this.
6. Consider cross-linking each language version of a page: e.g. for a French user who lands on the English version of your page.
For example: Hotels.com gives the user direct access to the desired language via a mega dropdown menu. The language status consistently remains as a tool and status indicator.

7. Utilise the URL to provide users with clues about the page’s content.

For example, the following Canadian .ca URLs use fr as a subdomain or subdirectory to indicate French content:
fr.websitename.ca/ webpage.html

8. If a search engine is aware of the country targeted by a site, it can use this information to improve the quality of its search results in different countries.

For example, Google generally uses the following elements to determine the targeted country of a website:
•Country-code top-level domain names (ccTLDs) e.g. .uk  .cn .de
•As these are tied to a specific country (for example .de for Germany, .cn for China), they are a strong signal to both users and search engines that the site is explicitly intended for a certain country.
9. If your site has a generic top-level domain names (gTLD) e.g. com, info, net, and org etc. you can use the “geotargeting tool”. This is found in Google’s Webmaster Tools and can be used to indicate that your site is targeted at a specific country. It is not advisable to use this if your site targets more than a single country.

10. Automatic redirection
  • Avoid automatic redirection based on the user’s perceived language.
  • Such redirections could prevent users and search engines from viewing all the versions of your site.
John Mu from Google explains that as a user, he wants the option to either see a localised version or a different version. 
"I live in the German-speaking part of Switzerland but often browse the web in English.
If I go to a search engine and search with English queries for English pages, I do not want to be redirected to a translated version which the website thinks I would like to see.”
“[Avoiding automatic redirections] allows our crawlers to find those pages and - should the user accidentally search for and click on the wrong one - lets the user move to a different language version on demand as well. By allowing our crawlers to crawl the various versions, we'll be better suited to suggest those URLs to users from those regions as well”.

Further information and ideas can be found below.
References and further reading:
searchengineland.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-multilingual-and-multiregional-seo-157838 www.seroundtable.com/archives/017200.html

Written by Nathan Sellars


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